The previous UK Government overhauled the immigration system in 2008 adopting a points-based system with a five tiered structure. One of the intended benefits of the new immigration system is the flexibility it provides. The ability to amend elements of the scheme under each tier without having to create a whole new entry point was a key selling point for the Government and it has already taken advantage. Implemented in April 2010, changes were made to the system to ensure restrictions are in place to allow only those workers that are needed in the UK to be able to gain visas. The amendments include:
- A new points criteria for both tier 1 and tier 2 workers.
- A simpler route for very highly skilled workers without Master’s degrees.
- Greater flexibility for short-term transfers for multinational companies.
- Added protection against the use of such short-term transfers to fill long-term vacancies that should go to resident workers.
The run up to the General Election saw the three main parties all seek to take advantage of the flexibility in the system, judging by the proposals in their manifestos. The coalition agreement mirrors the Conservative promise to set an annual limit on the number of non- EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work, with the method of implementation to be considered by the coalition. In addition, the agreement commits to end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
Instead of the points-based system bringing an end to changes in immigration, it would seem that change is in its very nature. Watch this space for further developments.